The High Need Baby: Sleep Problems

Sleeping BabySleep or lack thereof is a big topic in our house. It would be impossible to cover it all in one post. So I am just going to start at the beginning…

It has always been difficult for Livi to fall asleep and to stay asleep. Judging from how active she was in my belly when I was pregnant, I think she even had trouble sleeping back then.

I mentioned before that she was a hyperactive baby. Now she is a very busy toddler and even more active than ever before. That very same characteristic is what makes it so hard for her to calm down at bedtime.

I have seen babies who just fell asleep once you put them in their bed. They also slept whenever, wherever as soon as they were tired. I have seen others who needed to be rocked or swayed for a little while. But once they were asleep, you could pretty much do anything with them.

And then there is Livi: for the longest time after she was born, we had to walk her and rock her and nurse her for well over an hour until she was deeply asleep and even then we could not always move her to her bed. It also often took longer to get her to sleep than she would actually stay asleep.

Many times, she would just sleep on top of me. Or if we did manage to move her to her own bed, she was usually awake thirty minutes later. It took many months before she would sleep longer than an hour at a time and many more months before we were able to sleep two or three hours without her waking up again.

Friends and family would tell us we were starting a bad habit if we rocked and walked and rocked some more. And they may have been right except there was no other way to get her to sleep. And believe me, we tried. Once the exhaustion became hard to handle, we tried anything we could find or think of.

The problem is, Livi fights sleep as hard as she can no matter how tired she may be. She is falling asleep nicely, her eyes so tired she can no longer keep them open, and yet she is trying to stay awake as if her life depended on it.

But that is not the only problem we face; she is also very sensitive to stimulation when she sleeps, just like when she is awake. The slightest sound can wake her and so once she is asleep our house becomes very quiet. No showers, no TV without headphones, and we use white noise to drown out any other sounds.

She still faces the same sleep issues but she has become a better sleeper over time. She “only” wakes up twice now and she usually falls asleep faster.

We still need to keep the house quiet at night and we have to use an elaborate sleep routine to calm her down. But compared to where we started, we all sleep much better now.

Did your baby have trouble sleeping? What did you do to get him or her to sleep? What did you do or would have done had none of the methods worked that you tried?

Flickr Photo by Demi-Brooke

57 comments on “The High Need Baby: Sleep Problems

  1. Oh, I just want to give you a hug. Yes, I went through a lot with my daughter’s sleep. I got into the habit of nursing her to sleep, but just like you described, I had to sit there with her for at least 45 minutes before I can try to transfer her to her crib, and when she reached 4 months and entered the infamous 4-month-sleep-regression, it would take at least 3 attempts to get her in her crib. So, I could be in her room for 3 hours at bedtime trying to get her into her crib. And she always woke up within an hour, and we started again. But that attempt was faster (*only* 45 minutes or so). Until she was 7 months old, she woke up a few times at night, and I had to nurse her to sleep at those times as well. It probably took 30 minutes each time. And nap times (there were 4 naps at one point) were the same. But I was fortunate that after the horrendous bedtime routine and the first wake-up, she started to sleep through the night at 7 months.

    I became OBSESSED with sleep, as you have read about on my blog. It’s all I thought about because I was tired and in dire need of some ME time. Because nursing was the only thing that put her to sleep, I was the only one (and have still been the only one) to ever put her to sleep. I remember at the 4-month mark, when things were bad, I called my husband at work one day and I was crying so hard I couldn’t talk. I just felt so alone with it and I was just so tired. I called crying like that to my mother once, and she didn’t know what to do. I felt so badly afterwards for calling her when she’s not here to help, but I didn’t know anyone else who had gone through anything like that.

    I am not proud to say we did cry-it-out twice to try and “fix” things. It was horrendous. And it didn’t work. Both times, she was still crying a lot after 10 nights. It was a horrible experience and when it didn’t work, it made me MORE depressed because everyone promised it would be 3 or 5 days of horribleness, and then our life would be golden. As none of the “no-cry” stuff had worked before that (in fact, that stuff made things WORSE for me!), I really felt stuck.

    When she was about 10 months old, I did the fading method. We hit lots of bumps, but I did have luck with it, and now we’re in a really good place. It really was a struggle for me though, and if we were to have another baby, I would do things differently. I know I created the problems we had, but I just didn’t know any better and I was so desperate for sleep!

    My biggest advice is to listen to your mommy instincts and ignore what other people tell you. Only you know your child, and only you know what you are and are not comfortable with. Just because something works for one person, doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. And I promise you, she will not need you to go to university with her so she can sleep – you will get past this!


    • hnMom says:

      Thank you so much for the encouragement, I appreciate it.
      We also have tried everything. I did not want to let her cry it out but at some point, when it was particularly bad, my husband insisted we try. It did not work for us either (and I’ve actually heard the same from a lot of parents of high need babies because they are just too persistent in their crying) and it made things worse for a while. Not to mention that we all suffered and in the end had nothing to show for it.
      We tried all kinds of other approaches: sitting with her, moving further away, checking on her, drowsy but not asleep – you name it, we tried it, but nothing has worked so far.
      What exactly did you do when you were finally successful and how long did it take?

      • You poor thing. I remember feeling so irritated when other moms would tell me how it only took 3 days for CIO to work. I never thought I would ever be able to put her in her crib and walk out. Ever. But we got there. It took almost a year with all of the different things I tried, but we got there.

        I did the fading method, where I sat farther and farther away from her crib. The first night was horrendous – it took 2.5 hours to get her to fall asleep. I think it was better than CIO though – it was worse for ME because I was in her room watching her scream and cry, but she wasn’t alone, so I knew the tears weren’t feelings of abandonment, but feelings of anger. I picked her up every 5 minutes or so to calm her, so she wasn’t just sitting there screaming by herself. And when things got too much, we took a break – we left the room and tried again 20 minutes later. I found that helpful.

        My issue with fading is that she started to get 4 teeth right in the middle of it. So on the day that it was time for me to stop sitting in her room, it was fine for naps but she got so upset at bedtime. So we were back to square one, only this time I refused to nurse her, so it took LONGER to get her to sleep. I would rock and bounce and walk for up to 3 hours some nights. The issue was getting her from my shoulder into her crib – she’s a tummy sleeper, so it was impossible not to wake her up. I was such a mess. I would be in tears every night when my husband got home and often wasn’t eating dinner until after 10 pm when she finally fell asleep. And one night, my husband told me enough was enough and to just let her cry. And that’s when CIO worked. I’m convinced it’s because I went through the fading method – I feel like she knew I was just outside and that I wasn’t abandoning her. I wonder if CIO doesn’t work for some kids when they are younger because they haven’t grasped the whole “object permanence” thing.

        One thing to note if you do the fading method is that it can take ages for them to fall asleep. After the first day, she didn’t cry much at all, but would stand up and babble and play for almost an hour before she would fall asleep. So she would be up, and then she’d lay down and I’d think she was going to fall asleep, and then she’d be up again. I really questioned things at that point, but the object was to get her to fall asleep in her crib by herself, and as we were doing that, I stuck with it. Sitting there for all that time is long, but so worth it. If you can position yourself so she can’t see the front of you, download Words With Friends and play that while you wait for her to fall asleep. 🙂

        Do you have a lovey for Livi? I bought one of those Taggies triangles from Babies R Us. I just kept it in her crib all the time in hopes that she’d become attached to it, and now she is. When I put her in her crib now, she goes to it, so I think maybe that’s what prevents her from getting upset. And I can tell when it’s fallen out of her crib because she starts to cry.

        If I think of any other things that helped, I will let you know! Hang in there – it will get better. I honestly never thought it would, so I really do understand how depressing it is. Any time you need to talk, I’m here!

      • hnMom says:

        Wow, I don’t even know how to begin to thank you for sharing this with me and for your encouragement. I will show your comment(s) to my husband and see what we can come up with. We are willing to try anything at this point but still prefer not to use the CIO method. I will let you know how it works for us.
        And thank you for your offer. I might just have to take you up on it. 🙂

      • I can talk about baby sleep for HOURS, so any time you need to talk to someone about it, feel free to reach out to me. I get how horrible it is. We live in a 3-bedroom condo, which means the bedrooms are all on 1 level, so I get the noise issue too. Everyone used to say not to tiptoe around as we would create an issue, but when it was taking as long as it was to get her to sleep, there was NO WAY I was going to let anything wake her up. Fortunately, she’s pretty good with everyday noises, but I am careful not to chop carrots loudly or bang dishes, just in case!

        Do you use a sound machine? I put one on every time she sleeps, with the same noise selection each time (it’s an ocean sound). That helps, I’m sure.

        Hang in there, and keep me posted on what you do and how it goes!

        Big hugs!

      • hnMom says:

        Yeah, we also use a sound machine. I will definitely keep you posted. Thank you again for all the support. 🙂

  2. Oster's Mom says:

    My mom always tells me that they never want to sleep because they are afraid they are going to miss something. True or not, I empathize with you.

    Oster was a tough one in the beginning. We “bounced” him on my yoga ball (my husband was the one cradling him and shhh-ing in his ear) and let him fall asleep on me while I nursed. After 7 months, we couldn’t keep up with this routine, as it happened at least 4 times a night.

    Luckily, after we let him cry it out for a night (for 10 minutes) and I know a lot of parents don’t agree with this method…he goes down to sleep every night for 11 hours. For naps, we put on white noise and turn on a fan in his room. He’s currently transitioning his nap time so it’s hard to say if these things are working or not because his naps are so sporadic right now.

    It’s great to hear that Livi’s sleeping is getting better.

    • hnMom says:

      Thank you! I can always count on a supportive comment from you! 🙂
      We did try crying it out on my husband’s insistence when we hardly slept at all anymore but unfortunately it did not work for us. Just like everything else we tried. So for now we are stuck with two wakings at night and a very, very long bedtime routine. Which is still much better than what we had the whole first year.

  3. My LO will only sleep for naps in her swing or in our arms. I figure it is better than nothing! She used to sleep in her playpen when she was a newborn, but absolutely hates it now! We are cosleeping as well. It was so much easier on me to bf with the c-section. And now it has just continued and we are able to sleep better altogether – although she still isn’t sleeping 12+ hours a night like I’ve heard of other babies doing. She is only waking up once or twice a night now, which I think is a huge improvement.

  4. Oh boy I totally had sleep issues with my little guy. I think mine just had a difficult time sleeping, and perhaps it was because we also set him up with habits that made him rely on rocking or shushing. Either way, at 6 months we did sleep training and for him it worked. He sleeps through the night since then.

    We have a fan that we keep on in his room so that we don’t have to tip toe. That was a sleep aid I didn’t mind too much, although if I were to have another kid I would probably try not to even introduce it at all (I know babies who can sleep through conversations and washing dishes! What the heck?!).

    We also put up dark curtains in his room so that he wouldn’t wake up because of the sun, and that has helped a lot.

    And yes we’re big on routines. I think he likes it when he knows what to expect.

    • hnMom says:

      Thank you for your comments. We have tried all of this and more but we will just keep trying, eventually something has to work.
      I guess, some babies and kids are just more sensitive to stimulation when they sleep, while others can sleep through anything. So we have to make the best of it and help as much as we can. 🙂

  5. Kira would cry inconsolably from 9pm to 3am EVERY NIGHT. For six months. She is now almost two and she still cries every night when we put her down, and often wakes at least once a night. We ignore her now and let her fall back to sleep on her own. My GOD! She is a difficult sleeper. Nothing worked, nothing STILL works.

    • hnMom says:

      Wow, that sounds like a very difficult situation. How in the world were you able to deal with it for six whole months?
      I’m sorry Kira still has trouble sleeping and I truly hope that it will get better soon. 🙂

      • Hahahaha! Deal with it? I don’t know. Four hours of sleep each night (my older daughter would wake up at 7am) was brutal. I started napping A LOT during the day. That time is really foggy in my memory, I think my brain just kicked into survival mode.

      • hnMom says:

        Wow, that must have been rough. I know what you mean though. Many parts of Livi’s first year are foggy in my memory as well.
        Good luck with Kira’s sleep troubles.

      • Thanks! We’re at a more managable point right now, in bed at 7:30 and then we don’t go get her. It’s like sleep training, I guess, except that we started over a year ago and she’s never really understood the consistency…hahaha.

  6. Amyjean says:

    Annabelle is 5.5 months old. She started sleeping through the night without waking at 3 months but that did not last. As soon as she hit 4 months, that quickly stopped and she continues to wake a couple to several times a night. Luckily, once she is asleep when she wakes, it’s to nurse and fall right back asleep. We bed share so I anticipate when she is about to wake and nurse her before she fully wakes. Our issue is the consistent bed time. We aim for an 8 pm bedtime and will wear and walk her to sleep. Almost without fail she will fall asleep and we transition her to the bed. Even after successfully transferring her, she will stir about 20-30 minutes later-entering light sleep. I then have to nurse her to have her fall into a deeper sleep. We have noticed if its still light out when she stirs, even with me nursing her she awakes fully and won’t go back down for 2-3 hrs – 11 pm bedtime. She then sleeps 10-13 hrs awaking a few times to nurse.

    The hardest part is making sure she stays down once its 8 pm. All the books say this is normal baby sleep cycle so we are just going with it. It’s not the most ideal situation to be anticipating her waking but I’d rather do this than CIO.

    I know some people say dont create bad habits with walking or wearing her all the time, but I’d rather work with her in her struggle to sleep than to (what feels like to me) abandon her as she is figuring the sleep thing out. I’m just grateful she has her days and nights straight (knock on wood), that she isn’t waking more frequently, and that she seems to be a good sleeper once she actually falls asleep!

    Thanks for sharing your struggle. It’s nice to know I’m not alone! Good luck!

    • hnMom says:

      Unfortunately, many of us struggle. Annebelle definitely sleeps better than Livi did at her age, so it’s not all lost. 🙂
      Have you considered to use blackout curtains or blinds when it is still light outside. We use them and they did help at least a little bit.
      Hang in there and thanks for stopping by and sharing your story. I will definitely post an update if we make any progress with Livi’s sleep.

  7. Are you sure I didn’t write this!!!! I could cry just knowing there is someone else out there with EXACTLY the same situation as me. What about naps? I still struggle to get past 30 mins with naps…

    • hnMom says:

      Naps are also difficult. I plan to write more posts about sleeping and naps in the future. But yes, there are many days where she does not sleep longer than 30 minutes. But then she will surprise me and sleep for 2 hours. No idea why.
      But here is the thing: for the longest time, she would only nap while I held and rocked her. It is better now but there are still days when I need to do it if I want her to get any rest. And she is 16 months now.

  8. Anytime my son’s sleep schedule gets disturbed in any way, it’s difficult for all of us. Like you, we have an elaborate sleep routine too.

    I commend you for nurturing and catering to Livi’s needs in such a dedicated way.

    No matter how “excessive” our friends or family say we are, some may even judge us for “spoiling” our “demanding” child, we are doing what works for our little one.

    It’s our responsibility and it’s only instinctive for us mothers to attend to our baby’s/toddler’s specific needs.

    Having an elaborate routine for eating, traveling, sleeping, etc. just goes to show how in-tuned you are to Livi’s temperament. Your discipline and unwavering dedication to Livi is amazing.

    • hnMom says:

      Thank you so much for your support and encouraging words. 🙂
      It is very instinctive the way we take care of our children, isn’t it. And that also means that everyone has their own way of doing things and not one is right for everyone.

  9. Meagan says:

    You could have been talking about my 6 month old son!!! He fights and fights,as you said,as if his life depends on it!! He is also so active and has been really sensitive,but we were taught how to do the brush therapy so his sensitivity is lessened now. He used to be so bad,I couldn’t go anywhere with him,or have people over,especially the grandparents! He would be in meltdown mode for days after!! We’ve been working so hard to get ahead of his tired-times,even paid a bunch of money to s sleep consultant,and,after weeks of work with some progress-he started sleeping 11-12 hours a night,some,if now most nights at one point-he suddenly started to regress back to fighting us for hours and getting up earlier and earlier(thankfully,we were able to get our money back since she wasn’t able to help us). What was once a 6am wake-up,became a 5am and now,suddenly it seems we’re getting up at 4 or 4:30am!!! This means we have to push back his bedtime further,which means his naps are all screwed up….
    Thankfully,right now,both my husband and I are on maternity leave (we live in Denmark where,after the mother’s first 14 weeks post-birth maternity leave,both parents can split 32 weeks of paid maternity leave however they wish),so our days are just starting earlier but,in September,when I go back to school,this is going to be a problem,and an even bigger problem when my husband also goes back in October and our son is off to daycare. This will especially be a problem if we have to get him to sleep even earlier when we are also getting home from work/school and trying to get the last part of the day going.
    It just breaks my heart,the way he fights us. We’re still swaddling and rocking him to sleep. The only other thing that works is when we put him in the sling and go out for a walk,but he usually only takes a 40 minute nap,though he has done 2 hours a few times. Still,we can’t always be going outside for walks when he needs to sleep. I wish there was some advice that would actually help. It seems that every bit of advice people give,even advice for high-need babies,just doesn’t work for us/him. It really is a struggle

    • hnMom says:

      I’m so sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time. I wish I could help you, I wish that I knew the solution to your problems. But we are still struggling ourselves although things have gotten easier now that Livi is a bit older.
      I had never heard of the brush therapy but I’m glad it helped.
      We also went through a phase around that age when Livi would suddenly wake up earlier and earlier. For us it started with the change from Daylight Saving Time in the fall (I’m already nervous about it this year). Nothing helped although we tried everything and anything we could think of. In the end, we just had to wait it out. We did try to teach her that it was still nighttime with minimal success.
      Don’t give up. Keep trying different techniques and methods. Livi sometimes surprised us and she would suddenly respond to a method that had only made her cry before.
      By the way, your maternity leave sounds awesome. My husband had to take two weeks vacation and then he was “allowed” by law to take time off for (not quite) half his pay, only his employer did not appreciate it and gave him a hard time. So for the most part it was just me taking care of our daughter. Enjoy this time together, no matter how hard it is, at least you can lean on each other for a few months. 🙂

  10. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for this post. I wish I saw your site sooner. I felt quite alone out there with my high needs first born son. Your description of your daughter sounds very similar to my son. Unfortunately for us, he still wakes all night (typical schedules is – takes from 8-8:30pm to put him down, then he will wake every 1-2 hours all night long to feed until 6:30-7am in the morning when he wakes for good). He is almost 15 months old now so I haven’t had a good nights sleep in a LONG time. I also went back to work when he was 6 months old, so life has been quite rough. EVERYONE (husband, parents, friends, pediatrician) wants me to cry him out, but I’m certain it won’t work on him. I also strongly believe that CIO isn’t in his best interest from an emotional development standpoint (though I do wonder if his lack of continuous sleep is hurting his growth – he is fat but short). I’ve read a ton of sleep books, have tried a ton of no-cry tactics, and have even let my husband cry him out a night or two (to no avail). He wants what he wants and won’t stop crying until he gets it = me + breast milk. I think that is one of the key differentiators of a high needs baby – they are strong willed and have very specific wants. He is also super sensitive – asleep or awake (we are too scared to even flush the toilets once he is down – thank goodness for 2000 flushes tablets). I can’t wait to read the rest of your site. Thanks for sharing and creating a forum for other parents of high needs babies to share their stories via comments 🙂

    • hnMom says:

      I’m glad you found my post helpful and I hope the rest of my blog will help as well. If nothing else, you will know that you are not alone.
      Sleep is a big topic for many new parents but I have heard and read that high need babies usually have even more trouble sleeping and staying asleep.
      There are two books that I cannot recommend enough. “Raising your spirited Child” and “Sleepless in America,” both by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Aside from sleep, she addresses so many challenges that we face and provides often very easy solutions.
      Like you, I have read a lot of books about sleep (training). So far, I haven’t found anything that works and we are still struggling ourselves. And like you I also have a hard time with the CIO method. I just started reading another book called “The Sleepeasy Solution,” which came highly recommended. But it does involve letting the child cry, so I am not sure it’ll work for us.
      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hope everything works out for you. And please don’t hesitate to ask questions.

  11. IzzysMom says:

    Thank you for this post! So glad to know I am not alone with my high needs baby and her sleep problems. Isabelle is 2.5 months now and will only sleep on or next to me in bed or in my sling. When she’s on the bed at night, I may be able to sneak away for maybe an hour tops, so hubby and I can have some alone time, but woe to us if she wakes up and finds me not there as she’ll let out the most pitiful wail ever, which will escalate to an out of control cry if I dont appear soon to sooth her!! Friends and colleagues have been telling us we’re setting really bad habits and we have to stop it NOW. Well I can’t because it’s the only way both her and I can get enough sleep. I could try transferring her to the crib but she keeps waking every 45mins to an hour needing to be soothed and then I don’t get any sleep… Which isn’t going to cut it. Perhaps if I did it long enough she would learn to sleep in her crib… But if I did it long enough, I might also die from sleep deprivation (or insanity) before she learns to sleep in her crib! My husband can’t get her to sleep or calm down either as for some reason she associates him with playtime. Not willing to do CIO as I’m wary of the emotional impact to baby, and also because when she starts crying, there is a “point of no return” where it just escalates into an uncontrollable / unsoothable frenzy.
    I’m lucky in that a few weeks ago, I learned that she falls asleep VERY QUICKLY (ie within 10mins if its near her nap/sleep time) when I wear her in a sling and run the bathroom tub faucet in the dark. Sure, its a quick way out and I’m probably creating another layer of sleep dependency, but its helped me maintain my sanity and be able to still have some “me” time (though I’m wearing her inthe sling) during the day. I’m not feeling too bad about this whole situation as I figured it wont last forever and hopefully by the time she’s more mobile, she may *fingers crossed* want the space and independence from me!! Well, at least I’m praying that will happen…

    • hnMom says:

      I feel for you! The first months are by far the hardest. It depends on the child how long this will last. For us, we didn’t see much improvement until Livi was able to sit up by herself. And we saw the biggest difference when she started to crawl and walk and then again when she started to talk.
      She is now a little over 2 years old and still very demanding in that she wants to be held a lot and has difficulty sleeping. She is also very headstrong but at the same time, she has the sweetest, most caring personality and a great sense of humor.
      All I can say is follow your instincts and do what you feel is right. Otherwise, you will be even more miserable.
      If you want to read up on the subject, I highly recommend the books by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. Especially, “Raising your Spirited Child” and “Sleepless in America.” By the way, she says that CIO won’t work with spirited children but she has other helpful suggestions.
      Good luck!

  12. Wow, so good to hear others are going through this. I am so tired and crying all the time with lack of sleep. You are describing my second one who is now 7.5 months. I have a nearly 3 year old who is very demanding right now too. Probably because I’m so tired and not being such a good mum! We immigrated, I have no friends yet and my husband works away for 3 weeks at a time and is home for 4 days! It’s a nightmare. I just want sleep. Amelie’s crying escalates so fast there is no way to let her CIO and I wouldn’t anyway. Also we live in a basement flat and the threat of waking her sister up and upstairs too is too much. I just hope she grows out of it soon and into lovely long sleeps. I’d even be happy with a four hour stretch!

    • hnMom says:

      I’m so sorry to hear about your struggles. I know I hard it is but it must be even more exhausting with a second child. I truly hope that it gets easier soon. The 4 hour stretches will come, I am sure. Just hang in there!

  13. Rob says:

    My little girl will be 2 soon. I still grind it out every night with her. Even when her eyes are closed she will thrash from side to side for the next hour. She rarely naps and she wakes up multiple times in the night….I can take it …but my wife is exhausted down to her very soul. Somehow we just keep marching on and hoping that it will get better.

    • hnMom says:

      It will get better, I am sure. Livi is now almost 2.5 years old. She still has trouble falling asleep and she is also very active while she sleeps but for the last few months she has been sleeping better and better, waking up less often.
      Unless she is sick or something else is going on in our lives, she only wakes once or twice.
      Fortunately, she has also turned into a great napper.
      It really was just a matter of time (though it seemed to take forever). Just keep providing the same safe sleep environment and routine. There is nothing else you can do, since you can’t force them to sleep.
      Hang in there, for some kids it’s just really difficult to settle down. Good luck!

  14. SkinnyLoveBC says:

    Your post sounds exactly like my daughter. She’ll be 11 months old soon. She has silent reflux that is FINALLY controlled with a soy- and dairy-free diet. She is also the definition of a high needs baby.

    I feel like we’ve been through an emotional roller coaster with her… We co-slept until 3 months when she started sleeping in her swing. Then, miraculously, she started sleeping 8 hours at night. She did that for one glorious month and then got a cold, hit a milestone, started cutting teeth, and hit the 4-month regression.

    Since then, we gradually got her back to her crib for part of the night, but now we’ve co-slept for the past few months. Often, she sleeps on me and still wakes 3-5 times each night. We’re even trying elimination communication to see if that helps! We’ve also tried naturopathy, craniosacral, chiropractic, pediatrician, some CIO, and lots and lots of prayer. I’m looking into occupational therapy now to see if that will help…

    Basically, I understand how tired and miserable you were (and possibly still are). I keep hoping that there will be some magic fix, but I just don’t think there is. What helps me to not resent her though is remembering that I asked for her and that I got a wonderful little girl who wouldn’t be so special if she was just like all of the less needy babies.

    Hang in there! Thanks for putting your story out there so that us other HN moms know we aren’t alone. 🙂

    • hnMom says:

      Yes, I am still tired and exhausted, although it is much better compared to the first and even second year.
      Livi is still very demanding and requires a different kind of parenting. Lots of patience, lots of explanations for everything, and sleep is still a struggle. We do have glorious nights where she only wakes us once, but we are also still co-sleeping.
      But I can’t even imagine her being any different. She has turned into such a smart, friendly, caring, and funny little girl, there are many moments of joy that let you forget and forgive the hard parts, even though most of the time taking care of her is quite the challenge.

      All the best to you! And thank you for stopping by, it’s always so nice to hear from other HN moms. 🙂

  15. Meg says:

    I have a 6.5 month old HN son, and I am desperate for a better sleep situation. In the beginning, things seemed fine. He slept in a side car, waking every 2 hrs to nurse, but sleeping well in between. That seemed like very typical newborn behavior, and I was fine with that. At 2 months, he began sleeping in longer stretches at the beginning of the night, giving me a 5, 6, even 7 hr stretch. This was right at the time i went back to work, so I was super happy with that. Then at 3.5 months, the 4 month sleep regression hit. Suddenly, it took many tries to lay him down in his cot, and he’d wake after 45-90 minutes. I tried moving his cot across the room, thinking that if he were farther away, he wouldn’t wake so easily. But that didn’t work, and out of necessity, I began bed-sharing with him. It was never my plan to bed share. I am not comfortable with it, at all. But I didn’t know what other choice I had. His sleep patterns weren’t allowing me any sleep at all, and I work full time and have a long commute. For my own sanity, and safety, I felt I had no choice. That lasted 6 weeks. Then, as quickly as it came on, it went away. For the first (and only) time in his life, he slept ALL night, from 8:30pm to 6:30am when *I* woke him up to nurse before going off to work. But, the reprieve only lasted 2 weeks. For the last 6 weeks, we’ve been in sleep hell. He’s goes to bed just fine, but only sleeps for about 1.5-2 hrs before waking, usually right about the time I go to bed. He MUST nurse to sleep. I have tried the “No Cry Sleep Solution” Gentle Removal method to break the nursing association. We’ve had some success in shortening the nursing sessions, but not breaking them. Once I get him back to sleep, I cannot put him down again. If I try to lay him down, he wakes as soon as his back touches his mattress, if not sooner. I have, on occasion, fought him over this. He persisted until 4am every time I tried. 4am is when *I* gave up. I’m pretty sure he would’ve gone all night. So, again, I am forced to bed share, against my will. I hate to put it in such harsh words, but I really don’t want to bed share for many many reasons to include: 1) I am a super heavy sleeper, and it’s not the safest option for us, 2) I get “touched out.” 3) I have to sleep on a mattress on the floor away from my husband, 4) my son still doesn’t sleep WELL even bed sharing, and as of late has come to toss and turn all night, crawl all over me, draping himself wherever he wishes, and having 3am parties to practice his skills. And EVERY time he wakes, he nurses. I’m exhausted, I’m miserable, and I have no clue what to do. I’m pretty sure CIO would be disastrous for us. I even tried to get my son to just sleep in his crib in his nursery to just try it out. He tantrumed for hours just at the prospect of it. I know the issue is that he wants to be with me because during the day when I am at work and he is home with Daddy, he goes down easily for his naps, sleeps in his cot, and stays asleep for up to 3 hours!!! But on the weekends, when I am home, these 3 hour naps are just folklore, unless I go to bed with him. The only advice I get from non-HN moms is that I just need to let him cry. Ha! On the other hand, other HN moms tell me to just keep bed-sharing and wait it out.

    • hnMom says:

      I wish I had something useful to share but I never found the answer. Livi is now over 2.5 years old and she still struggles with falling asleep. Crying out didn’t work for us either so there wasn’t really anything we could do. It gets better over time, but slowly.
      Though it sounds like your son can fall asleep and stay asleep during the day so that’s already more than Livi ever did.

    • SkinnyloveBC says:

      I commented when my daughter was 11 months old and we were struggling. Well, she’s almost 15 months old now. We’ve made huge strides regarding sleep–here is what we’ve changed:
      — first, we prayed like crazy and asked God to work a miracle in our lives.
      — I read the Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child book. I always avoided it before because I thought it just boiled down to CIO, which didn’t work (even if I had wanted to try it). It doesn’t though! There is a lot more info. in there about naps, etc.
      — DD was older and more used to noises, secure, etc. You may need to try to stick it out for another few months for it to be successful. (I know, that’s an eternity).
      — we started by transferring sleepy DD to my husband so that he could co-sleep with her. This have me a break and broke some of her obsession with me. I slept in the guest room and he brought her in to nurse.
      — we moved her crib to her room. (Another reason I think it’s best to wait till closer to a year old.)
      — husband put her in her crib (when the time came ) and did modified CIO. He stayed in the room with her but didn’t get her out till she had slept and woke up to nurse. The first night was 90 minutes but she was more angry and confused than scared and sad (another reason to try to wait till 1 year).
      — i still nursed her drowsy/asleep each night so she would have SOME comfort from me when tackling such a big change.
      — husband stayed with her three nights. On the fourth night, he put her in the crib and left the room. She cried 15 minutes.
      — I finally realized that there is a difference between awake/alert crying and half-asleep crying. When she woke up in the night and cried half-heartedly, I didn’t rush in. 15 minutes later she was back asleep. The next time she woke, it was more awake/intense crying so I ran in to nurse her. She didn’t cry at all when I put her down.

      That’s it in a nutshell. Ultimately, the glory goes to God, but those are the changes we made. She is now nursing 0-1 times per night, going to sleep at an age-appropriate bedtime, and waking 12 hours later. The book made the biggest difference overall.

      Good luck! I know how miserable it is for you.

      • hnMom says:

        I am glad you found a solution that works for you. We tried all of your suggestions as I had also read the book you mention. Some worked for a short time but nothing did the trick in the long run. I am not surprised, however, since Livi is like this not only when it comes to sleeping. She is very strong willed and persistent with everything she does or wants or doesn’t want. She is also showing a very sweet and caring side of her, now that she is older, but the fact remains that every day is a challenge. So much so that we are still putting off having another child because we just wouldn’t know how to take care of a baby in addition to Livi.

    • You sound like you’re describing my daughter. She is 1 next week. 4 days ago I heard about ‘The sleep lady’ I haven’t used her exact approach, just done an intuitive version- basically I moved her out of my bed, I tell her ‘no booby.’ I’m trying to develop an attachment to a teddy for her. But I stay with her, comfort her. She did cry, but that’s normal as we change a habit. I talked to her through ‘teddy’ who wanted a cuddle. I made empathic noises, rather than trying to shush her. I’m not joking, I am gobsmacked by her response. I never thought she’d buy it. Saying that, she is almost one and I think that plays a big part. I don’t think she’d have taken it until now. I was up every 1.5 hours, she’d wake up 3 times before 9.30 and would only nurse back to sleep. I feel your pain. Google her, there are lots of forums, some good, some bad. Feel through it. I didn’t want to CIO, and I didn’t have to. The more your baby understands you, the easier it will be to try some methods out Good luck!

      • hnMom says:

        I really like your approach and I hope others who will read this in the future will be able to profit from it.
        You are definitely right, the older they get, the easier it will be to explain everything and try approaches such as yours. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Melinda Tagg says:

    I am very upset atm yet another day my little 15 week old simply will not sleep! sounds very much like your livi- I’m totally at my wits end nothing works and I am absolutely sick of nobody understanding or saying there child was the same when they just aren’t and ask the stupid suggestions, have you tried swaddling her take her for a walk in the pram etc- she cries in the pram thrashes around in swaddle until let out. she is never ever sleepy-
    what works best (but is still terrible is going into darkest quietest room laying back cover eyes holding hand in front or Muslim cloth over shoulder (or she will never closer eyes) breastfeeding until sleepy/eyes closed/ come off breast then pop on shoulder rock, shoosh, sway, sing (if that doesn’t work we do all the same under air overhead thing in kitchen… then if that doesnt work she cries herself to sleep on my chest or days like today she screams… eventually give to husband she screams on his chest completely over tired but settles and stays AWAKE!
    at night time same process but instead of putting on chest once she has eyes closed under cloth and swaying under air thing we move to bedroom and breastfeed laying down until eventually comes off and stays asleep normally 3 hours sometimes 2 sometimes 4….

    • hnMom says:

      I am so sorry, I know it is so hard and exhausting and frustrating. I wish I could tell you the secret solution that will make it all better but there isn’t one. What works for one high need child won’t necessarily work for another. And worse, when you think you found a solution for your baby, it will not work all the time.
      Hang in there, keep trying new things and when you get the 2 or 3 or 4 hours sleep, use it. Nothing is more important.
      I used to sleep with Livi on my chest for months, well over a year. And I would be up with her for several hours at a time. I would keep trying new things but they would rarely work. Really the only think that made it better was time. It seemed to take forever but eventually things got easier.
      Since your daughter is just 15 weeks old, you might also consider a medical reason for her behavior. Livi had reflux when she was a baby and a sensitive tummy and that certainly made things worse. But it wasn’t the whole story. She simply is one of those kids who need a lot of attention and touch and affection. She still does at 3 years old, only in different ways. She is still a very sensitive soul. And she still has trouble sleeping, just like her dad. It’s just a little easier when they are older and can talk but exhausting all the same.
      But I can tell you one thing, follow your instincts, deep inside you know what your baby needs. Sometimes you have to dig deep to find the strength to make it through the day but it’s so worth it. Livi turned into an amazing little girl.
      Stay strong! I promise, there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

  17. Hayley says:

    Hi! How are things going now? Our son is 8 months old and his sleep seems to be getting worse instead of better. He’s up at least 3 times.. Usually more and one of them he will be up for at least an hour. He’s also a fussy nurser so I can’t nurse him to sleep. And sometimes I can’t even get him to calm down enough to nurse at night. He also usually only naps about 30 minutes. And all this usually drives me nuts! I never know what to expect except that he will be a tired cranky mess at some point today.

    • hnMom says:

      Hi Hayley, thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am so sorry to hear that you are having such a difficult time with your son. I truly feel for you. You mentioned that his sleep is getting worse. I honestly don’t know what it might be other than maybe sleep regression, which is a temporary phase. Unfortunately, I am not quite sure what could make it better for you. Nursing was always our secret and it always worked to get her to sleep, which by the way did not turn into a bad habit; she’s been going to sleep without nursing just fine for years. But since that is not an option for you, I would just keep trying any- and everything you can think of. Rocking, swaying, singing, a fan, white noise, sleep music, keep trying until you find something that calms him. Is there anything that calms him down during the day when he is not supposed to sleep? I am sorry I am not able to help you more. I know it is an incredibly difficult time. The only thing I can tell you for sure is that it will get better eventually. In a few years from now, you will remember it and be thankful you made it through that time in one piece. Hang in there, don’t give up!!!

  18. Paulette Suchodolski says:

    Your Livi sounds just like my Ella! She is 13 months and I don’t keep count of how often she wakes but at least 5-9 times a night. She has graduated from literally sleeping on top of me all night to sleeping next to (while nursing) most of the night and then back on top of me again. I can escape now after I put her down for an hour or so before she needs to be nursed back to sleep. And yes I rush in before she is fully awake because if not she will be ready to play another couple hours. Honestly I’m frustrated with our sleeping arrangement but find some consolation in knowing I’m not alone. Thank you! How old is she now? Did you patiently wait for her to naturally become a better sleeper?

    • hnMom says:

      I am so sorry to hear about your struggles. Sleep deprivation is really the hardest part for every new parent but especially for parents like us.
      We tried everything and nothing made a difference. Yes, we had to patiently wait until she got better on her own. Once it took us several months of tiny steps to get her to stay in her own bed only to watch it all fall apart again when she got a cold.
      Livi is now 4.5 years old and sleeping really well through the night. She still struggles with falling asleep but it’s nothing compared to how it was.
      Hang in there. I wish I could help you more but we never found a solution.

    • I worked with someone called jennifer tow via Skype she is an expert in getting to the bottom of health issues Specially with babies. We changed or dowry completely and found ptt and lip ties revised twice my dd sleeps much better but still wakes but still improving and she actually settles now! !

    • Nursing to sleep in not a bad habit it is how it is meant to be soothing and settling- if that does not help baby sleep something is not right

  19. Lindsay Tuckwood says:

    I am struggling with our 5 week old: was calm and sleepy for the first 3 weeks, but about 1 week ago started becoming slightly more alert and having so much difficulty falling asleep. We walk, rock, shush, swing, song etc, but he still cries and resists. Even nursing him doesn’t always send him to sleep. It’s so hard especially because it takes so long for him to fall asleep, and it takes time away from my older child. Thank you for blogging your experiences… at least I know I’m not alone.

    • hnMom says:

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling, especially when you have another child to take care of. Livi was like that from the very beginning. One of her problems was reflux. Perhaps your pediatrician can find out if that’s the case for your baby too.
      Good luck!

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